WILLIAMS v. USA
ORDER Denying Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence (2255) and Denying Certificate of Appealabilty. (S.O.). Copy mailed. Signed by Judge Sarah Evans Barker on 5/30/2014.(MAC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Case No. 1:12-cv-1006-SEB-DML
Case No. 1:10-cr-0146-SEB-KPF-1
Entry Denying Motion for Relief Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 2255
and Denying Certificate of Appealability
For the reasons explained in this Entry, the motion of Jalil Williams for relief pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2255 must be denied and the action dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the Court
finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.
I. The § 2255 Motion
On August 31, 2010, Williams was charged in a twelve-count Information that was filed
in 1:10-cr-00146-SEB-KPF-1. Count 1 alleged that Williams interfered with interstate commerce
by commission of a robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951. Count 2 alleged that Williams
brandished a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(c)(1)(B)(i). Counts 3, 5, 7, and 12 alleged that Williams interfered with interstate
commerce by commission of a robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951. Counts 4, 6, and 8
alleged that on various dates relating to the robbery counts, Williams brandished a firearm in
relation to crimes of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(B)(i). Count 9 alleged that
Williams conspired with others to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery, in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 1951. Count 10 alleged that Williams brandished a firearm with respect to count 9.
Count 11 alleged that Williams knowingly possessed a firearm not registered to him.
On September 1, 2010, Williams filed a petition to enter a plea of guilty. That same day,
the parties submitted a written plea in which Williams agreed to plead guilty to Counts 1, 7, 8,
and 12 of the Information and the government agreed to dismiss the other counts. The
government also moved to dismiss the Superseding Indictment in cause number 1:08-cr-94-SEBKPF-1.
On September 1, 2010, the Court conducted a hearing on Williams’ petition to enter a
plea of guilty. At that hearing, the Court advised Williams of his rights and the possible penalties
he faced if convicted. The Court asked Williams if he understood that he was giving up his right
to appeal the conviction and his sentence. Williams acknowledged that that was part of his plea
agreement. (Plea Hearing Transcript pp. 20, 28). Williams testified at the hearing that nobody
persuaded or coerced him against his will to enter into the plea. Id. at 28. The Court determined
that Williams was fully competent and capable of entering an informed plea, that he was aware
of the nature of the charges and the consequences of the plea, and that his plea of guilty was a
knowing and voluntary plea supported by an independent basis in fact containing each of the
essential elements of each of the offenses. Id. at p. 45. The Court accepted Williams’ plea of
guilty to Counts 1, 7, 8, and 12 of the Information and adjudged him guilty as charged. The plea
agreement was reached in accordance with Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Civil
A sentencing hearing was held on March 24, 2011. The Court sentenced Williams to a
term of 192 months imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised release. An
Amended Judgment was entered on the docket on June 16, 2011.
Williams did not appeal his conviction or sentence. On July 14, 2012, Williams signed
his motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. It was filed on July 20, 2012.
A motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 2255 is the presumptive means by which a federal
prisoner can challenge his conviction or sentence. See Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 343
(1974). In his § 2255 motion, Williams asserts that his right to effective assistance of counsel
was denied when his attorney failed to file an appeal attacking his sentence. He argues that he
should have been granted a two-level departure. He also asserts that his criminal history was
overstated. The United States responds that Williams’ § 2255 motion is time-barred and also
barred by the waiver of post-conviction relief rights found in the written plea agreement.
Statute of Limitations
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) establishes a
one-year statute of limitations period for § 2255 motions. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). For purposes of
§ 2255(f)(1), that period runs from “the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes
final.” Id. A judgment of conviction becomes final when the conviction is affirmed on direct
review or when the time for perfecting an appeal expires. Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522,
527 (2003). As noted, the amended judgment of conviction was entered on the clerk’s docket on
June 16, 2011. Williams would have had fourteen (14) days, through Thursday June 30, 2011, in
which to file a notice of appeal. Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(1)(A). He did not appeal his conviction. For
purposes of the § 2255(f)(1) statute of limitations provision, June 30, 2011, is the date his
conviction became final.
Using the one-year period from the date on which the judgment of conviction became
final, Williams’ present motion would have to have been filed by June 30, 2012. Applying the
prison mailbox rule, see Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 271 (1988), Williams’ § 2255 motion
can be considered to have been filed on the date he placed the motion in the prison mail system.
In this instance, the Court gives Williams the most generous date possible by allowing the date
he signed his motion, July 14, 2012, to be deemed the date it was filed. That date, however, was
two weeks after the § 2255(f)(1) statute of limitations period expired.
Williams argues that he had one year and 90 days to timely file his petition. He cites Clay
for this proposition. Williams’ reliance on Clay is mistaken. The additional 90 days comes into
play only when a defendant files a direct appeal and it is unsuccessful. Under those
circumstances, if no petition for certiorari was filed, his conviction would have become final
when one year and 90 days had passed from the date of the court of appeals’ decision. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d)(1) (the one year period of limitation runs from “the date on which the judgment
became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such
review”). Clay held that when a defendant takes an unsuccessful direct appeal from his
conviction but does not then seek a writ of certiorari from the Supreme Court, a judgment
becomes final “when the time expires for filing a petition for certiorari contesting the appellate
court’s affirmation of the conviction.” Clay, 537 U.S. 525. Williams did not file a direct appeal,
so the question at issue in Clay does not apply to this case.
Williams further contends that the “standard of equitable tolling can be simply met by the
incompetence and failure of F.C.I. McDowell’s mailing department to expressly get mail (legal)
to its proper recipients.” (Reply, dkt. 28). Williams’ attempt to invoke equitable tolling is
baseless. The Court has treated Williams’ section 2255 motion as having been filed on the day it
was signed, thus eliminating any issue as to how or when it was mailed. For the above reasons,
Williams’ motion is time-barred.
The United States also argues that Williams’ § 2255 motion is barred by the waiver of
post-conviction relief rights found in the written plea agreement.
In paragraph 3 of the plea agreement, Williams acknowledged that if the Court accepted
the plea agreement, he would be sentenced pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement. The
parties agreed that Williams should be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of no more than 25
years to be followed by a term of supervised release of no more than five years. (¶ 3, Plea
In exchange for concessions made by the Government, Williams “expressly waives his
right to appeal on any ground his conviction. (¶9, Plea Agreement). Williams “also waives his
right to appeal the sentence imposed, including the right to appeal conferred by Title 18, United
States Code, Section 3742, if the Court sentences [him] to twenty-five (25) years imprisonment
or less.” Id. Williams “also waives the right to contest the sentence imposed and the manner in
which it was determined in any collateral attack, including an action brought under Title 28,
United States Code, Section 2255, if the Court sentences [him] to twenty-five (25) years
imprisonment or less.” Id. As noted, the Court sentenced Williams to 192 months (16 years)
The Seventh Circuit has recognized the validity of waivers such as that included in the
plea agreement in this case. “A defendant may validly waive both his right to a direct appeal and
his right to collateral review under § 2255 as part of his plea agreement.” Keller v. United States,
657 F.3d 675, 681 (7th Cir. 2011). Such waivers are upheld and enforced with limited exceptions
in cases in which 1) “the plea agreement was involuntary,” 2) “the district court relied on a
constitutionally impermissible factor (such as race),” 3) “the sentence exceeded the statutory
maximum,” or 4) the defendant claims ineffective assistance of counsel in relation to the
negotiation of the plea agreement. Id. (internal quotations omitted); see also Mason v. United
States, 211 F.3d 1065, 1069 (7th Cir. 2000) (because the ineffective assistance of counsel
challenge relating to sentencing had nothing to do with the issue of deficient negotiation of the
waiver, the petitioner waived his right to seek post-conviction relief); Jones v. United States, 167
F.3d 1142, 1145 (7th Cir. 1999) (“waivers are enforceable as a general rule; the right to mount a
collateral attack pursuant to ' 2255 survives only with respect to those discrete claims which
relate directly to the negotiation of the waiver”).
In Mason, 211 F.3d at 1069, the court suggested the following analysis in determining
whether a claim has been waived: “[C]an the petitioner establish that the waiver was not
knowingly or voluntarily made, and/or can he demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel with
respect to the negotiation of the waiver?” Id. Williams challenges his sentence. He specifically
waived his right to appeal pursuant to section 3742, and he waived his right to bring a section
2255 motion. He has not argued, much less shown, that his plea agreement was not knowingly
and voluntarily made. In addition, he has not asserted or shown any ineffective assistance of
counsel with respect to the plea agreement.
In light of the admitted plea waiver, Williams requests that the Court dismiss his § 2255
motion as “filed under the wrong title” and allow it “to proceed under a 3742 (review of
sentence).” (Reply, dkt. 28). The Court cannot rename or recharacterize a motion that falls within
the scope of a § 2255 motion. Melton v. United States, 359 F.3d 855, 857 (7th Cir. 2004) (“Any
motion filed in the district court that imposed the sentence, and substantively within the scope of
§ 2255 ¶ 1, is a motion under § 2255, no matter what title the prisoner plasters on the cover.”).
Moreover, as noted, the plea agreement expressly provided that Williams waived his “right to
appeal conferred by Title 18, United States Code, Section 3742.” (¶ 9, Plea Agreement).
“We have repeatedly held that a voluntary and knowing waiver of an appeal is valid and
must be enforced.” United States v. Sakellarion, 649 F.3d 634, 638 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal
quotation omitted). “The presumption of verity [of a defendant’s statements in pleading guilty] is
overcome only if the defendant satisfies a heavy burden of persuasion.” United States v. Logan,
244 F.3d 553, 558 (7th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation omitted). Williams has not met that burden.
Accordingly, the waiver provision is valid and will be enforced. William’s § 2255 motion
is barred by the waiver provision of his plea agreement.
Denial of Hearing
Although he has not requested one, Williams is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing. An
evidentiary hearing is “not required when the files and records of the case conclusively show that
the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” Lafuente v. United States, 617 F.3d 944, 946 (7th Cir. 2010)
(internal quotation omitted); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). That is the case here. No hearing is
warranted under these circumstances.
The foregoing circumstances show that Williams is not entitled to relief pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255. The motion for relief pursuant to § 2255 is therefore denied. Judgment consistent
with this Entry shall now issue.
This Entry and the accompanying Judgment shall also be entered on the docket in
the underlying criminal action, No. 1:10-cr-0146-SEB-KPF-1.
II. Certificate of Appealability
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 22(b), Rule 11(a) of the Rules
Governing ' 2255 Proceedings, and 28 U.S.C. ' 2253(c), the court finds that Williams has failed
to show that reasonable jurists would find it “debatable whether the petition states a valid claim
of the denial of a constitutional right” and “debatable whether the district court was correct in its
procedural ruling.” Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). The Court therefore denies a
certificate of appealability.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
P. O. Box 1009
Welch, WV 24801
All electronically registered counsel
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